‘Flying Antelopes’, Rangers International came back to their winning ways in a 2-1 come-from-behind victory over neighbors, Abia Warriors F.C in its third ‘Oriental Derby’ of NPFL 2021/2022 season at its adopted home ground of F.C Ifeanyiubah Stadium, Nnewi.
Abia Warriors took a surprising lead against the run of play, early in the second stanza when sloppy defending gave a vintage positioned, Valentine Odoh, to stab past a stranded Seidu Mutawakilu just two minutes after the restart as both sides canceled themselves out in the first that saw Ifeanyi Nweke’ connecting header from a Samuel Pam’s corner-kick crash against the upright, as the visitor’s goalkeeper, Edafe Vincent, was the busier of the two short-stoppers.
Christian Nnaji failed to draw the home side level just a minute later at the other end when he drilled his connecting header down and over the bar with a yawning net at his mercy after Chidiebere Nwobodo had outran his marker to deliver an inch-perfect cross.
The coach Abdul Maikaba’ wards continued to search for the leveler which came in the 64th minute after one of his substitutions for the day, Elijah Ani, was brought down inside the box and referee Zakari Sani wasted no time in pointing to the spot which was expertly converted by Christian Nnaji for his third goal of the season.
Chidiebere Nwobodo sent the majority of the fans that turned up to watch the mouth-watering fixture into frenzy mood on 70 minutes as he found the back of the net with a looping header, for his second of the season, during a goalmouth melee after Samuel Pam’s corner kick proved too difficult to clear by the visitors as Ifeanyi Nweke sent an inviting cross into the vital area.
More efforts by both sides to score more goals failed to materialize as a combination of good goalkeeping and impatience in front of goal by the forward liners of both sides ensured that no other goal was recorded.
Coach Abdul Maikaba said after the fixture, “We are happy with the result as we played against a very good side in the most difficult pitch to play football. With the three points, we are not too far from those ahead of us and we hope to keep winning to ensure that our target for the season is achieved.”
RANGERS TEAM: Seidu Mutawakilu, Tope Olusesi, Ifeanyi Nweke, Christian Madu, Olawale Doyeni, David Chimezie, kenechukwu Agu (Ugochukwu Ugwuoke -59th Min./Ejike Uzoenyi -85th Min.), Chidiebere Nwobodo, Samuel Pam, Christian Nnaji (Julius Ikechukwu -85th Min.), Chinonso Eziekwe (Elijah Ani -59th Min.). SUBS NOT USED: Nana Bonsu, Ernest Governor, Emeka Obiora, Daniel Vendaga.
Goals: Christian Nnaji -64th Minute (Pen), Chidiebere Nwobodo -70th Minute.